June 18, 2014 10:50:22 AM
Contact Helpline presents its annual catfish (and pulled pork and grilled chicken) fundraiser June 21 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Kroger parking lot on Highway 45 North in Columbus. All plates are $8 and include a choice of Mississippi farm-raised catfish, pulled pork or grilled chicken, plus French fries, cole slaw and hushpuppies. Desserts and cold drinks will also be available for purchase. Carry-out or sit a spell under the tent and enjoy a meal that will help keep the Helpline telephones open and manned around the clock. It just may save a life.
Contact Helpline is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Christian-based organization providing compassionate and carefully trained volunteers to assist callers through personal crisis and difficulty without being judgmental. Suicide prevention is a fundamental mission.
"All ages call," said Contact director Katrina Sunivelle. "Sometimes they feel like there's no hope, and we want to bring them light so that they aren't in such a dark place."
Through its Reassurance program, the Helpline also makes several hundred daily wellness calls to seniors and disabled individuals who live alone, in an effort to assist them in continuing to live safely and independently in their homes for as long as possible. The Helpline's services are free to the eight counties it serves.
The agency, of course, costs money to administer. That's where events like the catfish dinner come in.
"This is one of the fundraisers we have each year to help keep our doors open and to help get the word out to let people know they have a safe place to call," said Sunivelle. Contact is a United Way agency and receives some of its support from various businesses, churches and individuals.
"We'd like for everyone to help us reach our goal of selling at least 1,000 plates Saturday," said the director. "We wanted to set a goal; I believe it's true that even if we don't hit the moon, we'll land among the stars."
Pre-orders can be placed by calling the Contact business office at 662-327-2968. For those not purchasing plates but still wanting to give to the cause, donate at contacthelplinegtrms.org, or mail checks to Contact Helpline, P.O. Box 1304, Columbus, MS 39703.
If you have some time to give, Contact could use your abilities. Some volunteers elect to go through training to become a crisis line worker, but there are other opportunities as well.
"They can be event volunteers, or help in the office," Sunivelle explained. "There are many ways to help."
One of the most immediate and win-win methods is to place a pre-order today, or stop by the Contact tent in Kroger's parking lot Saturday -- and keep the phones open.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.